Blix: Iraq war arguments unfounded

Arguments used by the United States and Britain to wage war on Iraq last year were "without foundation", former UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix has said.

    Blix says the authority of the UN has been severely damaged

    The invasion last March also damaged the credibility of the countries which participated and the authority of

    the UN Security Council, Blix said in a speech at the University of Edinburgh on Tuesday.

    "The justification for the war - the existence of weapons of mass destruction - was without foundation," Blix

    told an audience of 1000.

    In taking armed action, the US and Britain "ignored the views of the majority" on the Security Council, leading

    to a "loss of legitimacy" for the invasion, he said.

    "The states which we would have expected to support some basic principles of the UN order, in my

    view, set a precedent of ignoring or undermining this order by acting too impatiently and without the support

    of the Security Council"

    Hans Blix,
    Ex-UN chief weapons inspector

    "The states which we would have expected to support and strengthen some basic principles of the UN order, in my

    view, set a precedent of ignoring or undermining this order by acting too impatiently and without the support

    of the Security Council.

    "As a result, their own credibility has suffered and the authority of the Security Council has been damaged,"

    said Blix, speaking as part of a public lecture on the means of reducing the spread of weapons of mass

    destruction.

    Blix added that deposed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein "was dangerous to his own people but not a great, and

    certainly not an immediate, danger to his neighbours and the world".

    Under pressure to explain the failure to uncover convincing proof of banned weapons in Iraq, both London and

    Washington have ordered inquiries into apparent failures by their intelligence services.

    Blix, a former Swedish foreign minister who was charged with searching for weapons of mass destruction in the

    15 weeks leading up to the US-led invasion, never hid his scepticism that Iraq actually had such weapons.

    Tenet quizzed

    George Tenet faced a Senate
    panel over his comments on Iraq

    US lawmakers pressed CIA Director George Tenet on Tuesday on recent comments he made about having told the

    White House that prior to the war Iraq had not posed an imminent threat.

    "If it wasn't an imminent threat in your mind, how would you have characterised or assessed the threat at that

    point in time?" asked Republican Senator Olympia Snowe.

    "I would have characterised it as something that was grave and gathering, something that we were quite worried

    about," Tenet told the hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee on the threat to national security.

    Snowe noted President George Bush's words in his 17 September 2002 speech on his national security strategy.

    "When the threat is imminent, the nation has the right to conduct preemptive operations."

    Refusing to state that Bush launched the Iraq war due to a threat that was less than imminent, Tenet said the

    CIA "said things quite assertively in our key judgments that caused the policy-maker to have a look at this

    thing in a way that he or she had to assess risk".

    "Those are just the facts as we know them today," Tenet said.

    "We can go back and, of course, we will look at all of this work. And make judgments about did we word

    everything carefully, did we have the right context and everything.

    "That's appropriate. We need to do that as professionals."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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